Making an animal cruelty complaint

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act commenced in NSW in 1979.  The objects of the Act are to prevent cruelty to animals, and to promote the welfare of animals by requiring a person in charge of an animal to provide care for the animal, to treat the animal in a humane manner, and to ensure the welfare of the animal.

Who will take a complaint about animal cruelty?

If you suspect or witness cruelty to an animal, you should directly contact one of the enforcement agencies.

These agencies are:

The NSW Department of Primary Industries is not a Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act enforcement agency. It is responsible for administering the Act, but officers of the NSW Department of Primary Industries do not have powers of enforcement.

What information is needed to make a complaint?

Your name, address and telephone number - this information will be kept in the strictest confidence, however, it is required to investigate a complaint.  Further, the investigating officer may need to contact you to verify details of the complaint.

The location of the animals - if this is at a fixed location, you will need to provide the address details.  If the animals are located on or within a vehicle, you will need to provide the registration details, and a description of the vehicle.

The people involved - if you have the information, the name and phone number of the person/s involved in the offence will be taken.  If not, a clear description of all people involved should be provided.

Your concern about the animals - you need to provide information about the type and number of animals involved, the problem, and as much detail as possible about the animals condition.

Time and date of the alleged offence - you will need to advise of the date and time when you noticed the problem.

Any other information - if you are aware of any information which will help the inspector to investigate the complaint, for example if there are savage dogs, if the people involved are known to be violent, or the names and addresses of other witnesses to the cruelty.

Please be aware that providing false or misleading information is an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

What will happen after I make my complaint?

An inspector will investigate the complaint, and make a decision based on the evidence he/she can find as to what will be done.

The inspector may take one or more of the following actions:

  • provide advice on appropriate care
  • officially warn the person/s
  • issue directions to the owner to address welfare issues
  • issue an infringement notice
  • collect evidence to begin a prosecution
  • seize the animal/s

The inspector may then re-visit to ensure that directions or advice have been followed, and if they have not, may elect to take other action.

Concerns for zoo, circus and other exhibited animals

Do you have a concern for the welfare of a zoo, circus or other exhibited animal in NSW?

To make a complaint under the Exhibited Animals Protection Act 1986 about the treatment or condition of an animal in:

  • a zoo, fauna park, or oceanarium
  • a circus
  • a mobile reptile display
  • a mobile animal nursery or
  • some other type of animal exhibit
Phone: 1800 680 244

Concerns for animals used in research and teaching

Do you have a concern for the welfare of an animal used in research or teaching in NSW?

To make a complaint about the treatment of animals used in research or teaching in NSW, please contact the Department of Primary Industries Biosecurity and Food Safety Complaints investigation unit at or on 1800 680 244.

Complaints to the Secretary under the Animal Research Act 1985

There are also procedures under the Animal Research Act 1985 for complaints to be made to the Secretary of the Department in regards to an accredited research establishment, animal research authority holder or animal suppliers licence. Complaints lodged in this manner must meet the requirements outlined in section 22, 28 or 42 of the Animal Research Act 1985.

Further information is available at Complaints.